Those of you who follow me will note that I have been absent from my blog for some time now. We have been going through some big changes around the farm.
This past spring we decided it was time to step away from the retail sale of eggs. We have so much going on in our lives, we just didn’t have the time to dedicate to taking care of so many birds along with all our other responsibilities. It had gotten to the point where we worked all the time and the to do list was never complete. One can’t go on like that endlessly!
I have tried to embrace the theme less is more in many different ways. Not only have we decreased our flock to about a dozen chickens and 2 dozen ducks, but I’ve also consolidated my veggie garden to one large raised bed from the huge bed I had last summer.
These two changes have resulted in a much more manageable work load at home. I can weed the veggies in an hour. We eat most of what I grow fresh, meaning I only can a bit when there’s extra. I’ve picked up some extra produce too from neighboring farmers to make some of my favorites or to try a new recipe.
The chickens are all in one henhouse and run (down from 4 coops and 3 runs)- much less space to keep clean. The grass is growing back in in the chicken yard, helping with erosion issues we had developed and making it more pleasant out there for all. We are back to a scale where we can know our birds as individuals again and enjoy watching their antics and interactions. I’ll have to share the story of our rooster, Gorgeous George, who has taken a real liking to the poor ducks. Keep an eye out for that soon!
Also, it is much easier to do day-to-day care for this smaller flock so it’s not as difficult to leave and ask neighbors to look in on the girls from time to time. This has meant that we’ve been able to spend nearly half the summer in Michigan – unimaginable a year ago! It has been so lovely and good for our family to have this time away together in a place that’s relaxing and fun.
We are enjoying our final week of the summer here at the lake, and I felt inspired to get back on here and start sharing with you again.
My first post back is a little foraging and cooking adventure – two things I love doing and have had more energy for these past few months.
I love this time of year at the lake because there is so much fresh fruit available. The Cherry Street Market in Kalkaska is overflowing with Michigan corn, cherries, peaches, lettuce, squash, blueberries… Even closer to home, the park down our street is full of berry bushes starting to ripen. I spent the whole morning there, picking mostly wild blackberries along with some red raspberries and green apples.
I brought back my bounty and looked up a recipe to make in a new cookbook I got from the library: Sweeter Off the Vine by Yossy Arefi. It’s all desserts made from fresh fruit. I have made two recipes from it so far and both have been delicious. Here’s my slightly adapted version of the book’s “Blackberry Sage Cream Puffs” made with blackberries from the park and sage from my herb garden.
Enjoy and thanks for sticking with me while I took some time to relax and restore!
Blackberry and Sage Cream Puffs
This recipe is completed in three parts, all of which you keep cool until ready to serve. Just before eating, slice each puff open and fill it with a scoop of cream filling and several spoons of blackberries. Serve immediately.
Ingredients: cream puffs
- 1 c water
- 6 T salted butter
- 1 T sugar
- 1/2 c all purpose flour
- 1/2 c rye flour
- 5 eggs
- Sugar for sprinkling on top
Instructions: cream puffs
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- In a 2 quart sauce pan, combine the water, butter, and sugar. Heat until butter melts and mix comes to a rolling boil.
- Remove from heat and stir in flour all at once. Let the mix cool for a few minutes.
- Stir in 4 eggs, one at a time, making sure each is combined before adding the next.
- Spoon the batter into a gallon ziplock bag, push all the extra air out and snip a bottom corner. Use this like a pastry bag to pipe out 12 equal mounds of batter, about 2″ apart on the cookie sheet.
- Beat the remaining egg and brush the top of each puff then sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely before filling.
- 3 c blackberries, divided
- 1/4 c sugar
- 2 T lemon juice
- 4 large sage leaves
- Clean out the pan you used for the batter and add 2 c blackberries, sugar and lemon juice. Mash the mix with a potato masher or fork. Add the sage and bring the mix to a boil over medium heat.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until the blackberry mix is thick like jam, 7-10 minutes.
- Let cool for a few minutes then remove sage and fold in the remaining cup of berries.
- Store in fridge until you are ready to assemble.
Ingredients: cream filling
- 1 c heavy cream
- 1/2 c mascarpone
- 2 t sugar, or more to taste
- 1 t vanilla
Instructions: cream filling
- Whip the cream, sugar and vanilla with a hand or stand mixer.
- Add the mascarpone and continue mixing until medium peaks form.
- Store in the fridge until you are ready to serve.